A Traceur’s Fast

Written by Anthony Nguyen
Published on Monday, 14 September 2009

Whenever people ask me if I do parkour, I’m not really sure what to tell them. Not because of the fact that they used the word wrong, but because I don’t do movement. When people ask me how long I’ve been doing parkour, instead of saying I’ve trained it for nearly two years, I say I’ve been on the scene for nearly two years. Silly right? Actually, it’s dumb. How can I even try to accept someone else calling me a traceur, when I can’t honestly do it myself?

I never move because I’m afraid. Afraid of being hurt, afraid of making a fool out of myself, afraid of being sloppy, afraid of being wrong, afraid of overshooting, afraid of slipping, falling, failing. And this same mindset continued to plague my training for nearly two years. As a result, most of my training was restricted to conditioning. Pushes, Pulls, Pistols, Dips, these were movements I could safely turn to train without ever having to risk anything. I saw myself progress alongside those around me in terms of conditioning, but in regards to movement, everyone surpassed me.

I turned to essays, videos, pictures, articles; hoping that it would convince me that there was nothing to be afraid of. I heard countless tales about how people overcame things, or how they put fear aside. Using visualization, imagining something on the other side, countdowns, and more. Still, nothing happened.

I talked to others, everyone seemed to have answers and explanations, but I still couldn’t bring myself to do anything. For everyone 1000 words, and 10 videos, I still only did one or two movements, generally they were movements I had already done. Everyone had a solution, but each solution I heard was specifically melded for their own specific problems, and as such, it was inapplicable to my own.

My problem was that I didn’t want it enough. Movement was seen as a subcategory of conditioning, when in truth, it’s closer to the opposite. I wanted to train parkour, and the movements were something I wanted to be able to do and learn. My will to overcome each challenge was weaker than the fear that came with them. And while this was something I realized for quite some time, I was unable to face it, constantly convinced of my physical inadequacy.

Yesterday, during the beautiful weather, I went out and took a rare initiative towards movement. It happened because my want to move overpowered my fear of it. None of the movements were big, some dynos, some strides, rail balance, vaults. It’s the movement and attempt that matters though. Most of it was a laughable distance easily done by others, but I suppose I have to start somewhere. I’m in no way implying that I have found the solution to all my fears and will be able to take on any challenge in the future. I’m quite slow to change. Change is the key though, and hopefully this is where it starts.

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